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Swine veterinarians play important role in Canadian Quality Assurance program

Each summer DVM students from the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph delve into practical experience at veterinary clinics across Ontario and additional locales. These blog posts are an opportunity to tag along with them. Here student veterinarian Ed describes the role of swine veterinarians in the industry’s Canadian Quality Assurance program.  Check out all the student blogs here

 

This week I am going to discuss a very important role of swine veterinarians as it relates to a program called CQA, which stands for Canadian Quality Assurance.  CQA is a national program that was designed to ensure the upmost level of food safety and animal care on Canadian swine farms.  The program first launched in 1998 and has seen many advancements and changes since its inception, with the notable addition of the Animal Care Assessment component in 2012.  The ultimate goal of the CQA program is to ensure you have confidence in the quality of pork you buy at the grocery store!

As an introduction, I’d like to invite you to watch this video produced by Ontario Pork, an organization that represents the upwards of 1,500 hog producers in Ontario.  You can follow them at @OntarioPork.  This video briefly outlines the veterinary involvement on swine farms.

The CQA program outlines a set of requirements that producers must meet; these requirements relate to various aspects of production.  Some examples are:

  • The storage, implementation and use of medications.
  • Ensuring an optimal pig environment with regards to feed, water, barn ventilation and flooring, among many others.
  • Training of staff members on-farm to ensure proper stockmanship and handling of animals.

Veterinarians have the role of a third-party validator for this program.  This means that veterinarians visit farms to ensure producers meet or exceed the requirements for this program.  In the vast majority of cases, producers pass their validations with flying colours.  That being said, in the event that there are any shortcomings, veterinarians work closely with producers to remedy any issues.

CQA is truly a good news story for both the Canadian pork industry and consumers like you and I.  Even though the thought of more paperwork can make anyone cringe (myself included!), there has been excellent acceptance on the part of hog producers to embrace this program.  I have really enjoyed these farm validation visits.

 

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